~ A story about making life changes ~
There were always the Sunday Scaries and Mondays were hard. But Tuesday morning is always when the penny really dropped. It felt like a huge effort to get through Monday and now as I woke on Tuesday the realization would come that I have to do that again and again another 4 times until I could have a hope of breathing again. I would usually have a bit of a meltdown, like clockwork, every Tuesday morning before heading off to wherever I had to go be by 8 or 9am. My own coach allowed me to call her and she could always expect an early Tuesday morning call. She'd calm me down and I'd feel less alone with my feelings, but it was always so hard to push aside what was going on inside and get myself out the door.
I didn't feel like I had any choice
What was going on was I didn't feel like I had any control over my life or any choice in what I had to do. And there was very little in my life that I actually wanted to do, that brought joy and happiness. Sure it was all "good" from the outside and I was ticking the academic/professional boxes and choosing to do so, but they felt like forced choices. To be successful (read: good enough, fit in, be accepted, survive etc.) I had to follow the script and do all the things. And most of those things were not aligned with who I really am. It was very stressful.
The truth seemed too inconvenient
I felt like I had to put on a brave face, "suck it up," pretend it's all ok and mask what was really going on. To face the truth - that I didn't want to follow the script and do what I had in front of me to do - was too inconvenient. For my family and for me. Our individual and collective projected futures were at stake - we had an idea in our mind how things would go. Life had been built around me sticking to the script. Identities - my own and others - attached to me being a certain way. So I tried as best I could to hide my feelings and not go there.
It was imprisoning. Me week after week, year after year, trying to fit the mold, follow the program, stay in line, meet the expectations and ultimately try to pretend I'm someone different than who I really am.
I marched on as long as I could. I truly didn't know any other options were possible. I blamed myself for being the way I am. Why couldn't I just be ok with this and these expectations? Everyone else seems to be doing this ok, so what's wrong with me? Despite the appearance of "fitting in," inside I always felt like an outsider and like I just didn't belong.
Life is going to happen anyway
Then something happened. If I wasn't going to make a change on my own, life was going to force the issue. I got sick. It took me out of the game and on to the bench. And the whole train me and my life was on came to a screeching halt. The script I was following and projected storyline for the future disintegrated before my eyes. I had been trying to avoid having to look at this my whole life so obviously, at the time, I thought what was happening was horrible. All the stuff that you might think about that stops you from making a change in your life - a change towards honoring yourself, what's going on inside for you and what you actually want - came up for me. I walked through it all head-on.
And I'm not going to lie, even though as I look back and see the change as a very good thing, it was objectively hard to go through. Lots of pain - loss of my identity, not knowing what would happen in the future, not knowing how those who had loved me in the past would accept this new person. I didn't even know this person myself since I'd spent a lifetime trying to ignore or deny her existence. Or make her bad/wrong. I had to ask myself, am I even able to love this person the way she is? Can I learn to?
I’m listening to her from now on
I'm still meeting this person; the real me. And I really like her. She's pretty cool. And the life that has emerged for me when I listen to her is supportive, beautiful, and kind. Not at all the "failure" and ruin I had perviously thought she'd lead me to if I listened to her needs and desires. Instead, more joy, happiness, ease, access to peace has become available to me and my life. She knows the way. And from now on I know to only listen to and honor her above all else - a complete 180 from how I was living and treating her before. While her truth was once considered inconvenient and in the way of success, now it’s the compass of my life.
Yes, exposure of your true self feels scary
When you start to show up and stand up for who you really are - start saying no to the stuff that's not for you and yes to the stuff that's aligned with what you truly want - bluntly stated, it can feel like you're going to fucking die. Because you are in a way. You're killing off this old version of you that even though causes you pain to be that way, you're attached to and others are attached to you being like that. It's scary to finally show up as you, say what you mean, take control of your life, make choices that are right for you and just let the chips fall wherever they do. We're used to keeping all those chips in the air or firmly taped together with all the effort we can muster. But that's so much effort and totally exhausting.
And what I'm trying to say here is that all that effort to keep up what you're doing now - to suck it up, to keep on going, to resist what's trying to come to the surface and going on inside of you - is totally unnecessary. We do have choices, we do have autonomy over our own life. We may feel like it's too costly or painful to change, but it's actually the other way around. It's very costly and painful not to.
So, whether you've reached that point where you're ready to look at this or not, just know there is another way. The Sunday Scaries, Monday blues, Tuesday morning meltdowns don't have to be part your life. Neither does feeling trapped or ashamed or trying to hide who you are. There's nothing wrong with you, you're not alone in this, there is a way through and change is possible. A life where you get to show up as you and enjoy yourself is possible.